Meet the PLA Board

Meet Maria McCauley, Past-President

We voted!’ A family selfie: Maria McCauley and her spouse encourage their kids to participate in our democracy by bringing them to the polls.I’ve been fortunate to have journeyed forty-something trips around the sun, including many stops at public libraries. Besides the Cambridge Public Library (Massachusetts), where I work, some of my favorites include Ocracoke Community Library (North Carolina), where my sister resides; Mineral-Gold Public Library (Illinois) where my spouse’s family is from; and the Central Branch of the Amsterdam Public Library (the Netherlands), where I enjoyed wine, river views, and a good book. In addition to libraries and the business of libraries and community, my journey includes a lot of time with friends, family, traveling, and everyday adventures.

Why I wanted to serve on the PLA Board

Since I received my first library card as a kid, I have always believed in the value of public libraries. My hometown’s library was a magical place for me to play, read, and explore throughout my childhood, and I could study, read, and hang out with my peers during my adolescence. Through mentorship, I was fortunate to discover an enriching career in librarianship, first in academic and then public libraries. I have seen how public libraries offer children crucial opportunities to learn and build skills, open portals to the world through resources, programs, and services, and work toward giving everyone an equal opportunity. Through membership and being an ALA Spectrum Scholar, I have been involved with ALA, PLA, and the Asian Pacific American Library Association for many years, and I am excited to give back and continue my challenging and rewarding ALA journey.

My vision for the future of public libraries

I would like to see public libraries and library workers help people live their very best lives by providing stimulating programs and services and innovative physical and digital spaces that bring communities together in an equitable way. As we try to provide equitable services, libraries should be addressing systemic racism and elevating BIPOC and GLBTQR+ and other traditionally marginalized writers and voices. It is imperative that libraries continue to protect intellectual freedom and privacy. It is also important that libraries work toward being environmentally sound, economically feasible, and socially equitable. Living these values and protecting intellectual freedom and individual privacy provide the foundation for patrons to be able to live their fullest lives.

My favorite book

Recent special reads: Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir, which I found gut-wrenching and beautiful, and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Wilkerson vividly brought to life the Black Americans who experienced the Great Migration and told an important part of U.S. history in a brilliant way.

Somewhere I love to frequent in my community

I love being immersed in the experience. Some of my family’s favorites: visiting the children’s areas of the Cambridge Public Library (of course!), trekking along the Charles River, exploring New England’s coastal terrain, visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, walking the streets of Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston, and weaving into neighborhood farmer’s markets, bookstores, and coffee shops. I’m thankful to observe the view, nature, and hum of life.

Photo: "We voted!" A family selfie: Maria McCauley and her spouse encourage their kids to participate in our democracy by bringing them to the polls.